Nicely written and good analogy of previous technology innovations. Thank you for starting the conversation.
To this end, there are two areas that stick out in your piece.
- This is the age of neurotechnology. Let’s not just focus on the brain but take a broader scope of the applications within the body. We often think of the brain as the “control center” of the body but we are learning that this might not be the case. For example, there is evidence to show that the spinal cord has a “central generator” where it essentially by-passes the brain for some functions. In neurotechnology, we can tap into these miniature internal ecosystems of the body. Is the brain still a key “organ” that we don’t fully understand? Sure it is. The interaction of technology with our bodies is truly the Age of Neurotechnology with a broader full “being and body” perspective.
- If we want to move brain interfaces to the main stream, let’s discontinue thinking of the end user as the “patient” and more for what they really are — the end user. When we refer to patient, this is a reference to the interaction between a person and a clinician in a medical setting. Yes, many implanted device companies focus on selling to the surgeon. In reality that surgeon has limited access to the person and may only interact on a short term basis. If we are developing technologies for long-term use, that “patient” very quickly becomes the “end user”. The patient referral tends to drive us to think of brain interfaces as medical technology, which is what it is today. If we want a vision for the future, brain interfaces are an innovative technology beyond the medical setting.
No doubt this is an exciting field that can have a profound impact on society. Let’s set a vision to also learn from the past and not repeat mistakes in the future.